sales

3 Common Mistakes That May Be Killing Your Sales

*As originally seen on Forbes.com

We all want better sales results—so what’s the secret?

It lies in the brain, and knowing how to guide our sales people out of their Critter State, where they are overwhelmed, stressed, in fight/flight/freeze, and into their Smart State where they have fresh insights, are ready to tackle the day, are motivated and psyched to succeed.

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1-You Aren’t Asking the Right Questions

Some of these are harder than others. But you need to ask them. Often, like quarterly at a minimum.

  • What percentage of your sales people are performing at quota?
  • How many stages are in the sales process? What happens at each stage? In which stage(s) do sales get stuck/slow down?
  • What’s your current sales cycle? How long would you like it to be and by when?
  • What percentage of your pipeline do you close? What percentage would you like to and by when?
  • What percentage of sales do you lose to competitors? What are the most common reasons? What percentage would you be willing to tolerate and by when?
  • What are your clients’ and prospective clients’ 5 greatest pain points?
  • What’s your current client retention rate? What would we like it to be and by when?
  • What are your current margins? What would you like them to be and by when?
  • How many qualified leads are generated each month? Through what channels? How many would you like and when?
  • What marketing channels are you currently using (trade shows, direct mail, social, webinars, blogs, infographics, Slide Shares, ads, etc)? Which are most effective?
  • What is the profile of your clients (SBM Trigger, MP Profile, Customer Journey, VAK preference)? How many profiles do we have?

2-You Don’t Have Visibility On Progress and Performance

Many clients ask me for help in streamlining their weekly sales meetings. Here are some effective methods.

Weekly Salesperson Status Report – Set a specific date/time that weekly status is due so the Flash Report below is complete. Make it super easy for the salesperson to submit their weekly status, like by editing a Google Doc or some such, and also ensure it is clear that to be on the sales team this is what you require weekly:

  • # new client orders and details ($ amount, product/services, etc.)
  • # new existing client orders and details ($ amount, product/services, etc.)
  • # new prospects and details (expected $ amount, sales stage, next steps)
  • [whatever else you require to track performance and uncover potential problems]

Weekly Sales Flash Report – Here’s what to cover each week with the sales team during a group huddle. Be sure to recap on email post-meeting so everyone remembers what was covered.

  • Summary sales activity per salesperson: how many orders at what stage of sales process, total $ per salesperson per stage, total velocity (movement from one stage to the next each week)
  • Winners for the weekly contest (whatever behavior you are currently incenting: new orders, upsells/down sells/cross-sells, specific product/service sales, fastest to report sales status in the CRM, etc.)

Weekly CRM Update – Make sure all salespeople know what data needs to be entered in the CRM after each sales call. For example: sales stage movement for the week, notes per call/communication with prospect, proposal info and all sales activity info above. Some clients have their customer service reps do CRM data entry for salespeople as a reward once a certain sales performance level is achieved.

Some of our clients like to set up a Google doc or other repository to help celebrate sales people (as well as all other team members). On the doc each employee fills in their section listing what treats (under $200) they’d like to receive for terrific performance. Make this public so all can see and use, and you’ll find leaders have a much easier time providing fun and meaningful incentive gifts.

3-Your Compensation System Isn’t Working

The below plan is a super simple way to compensate sales people to incent them to:

  • Sell more new business
  • Hand off recurring business to account management
  • Team-sell where appropriate and know they’ll be compensated

Edit this, make it your own, and see how well it works for you.

Base Commission

  • New sales from new clients at x% (see “Levels of sales people” below)
  • Repeat sales from existing clients at y% (shared between sales person and CSR/account manager)
    1. Year 2 commission at ½ of y%
    2. Year 3 commission at 1/3 of y%
    3. Year 4 commission at ¼ of y% (sales person should be out of commission sharing here or sooner)
  • Gross margin expectation at z% — see “Accelerators” section below
  • Levels of sales people:
    1. Entry level person and entry level quota of $ __________. Base: $ _____ Model salesperson: [name here]
    2. Mid-level person (reaches quota 75%+ of time), has quota of $_________. Base: $ _____ Model salesperson: [name here]
    3. Senior level person (reaches quota all the time), has quota of $_________. Base: $ _____ Model salesperson: [name here]
  • Levels of CSRs/Account Managers:
    1. Entry level and entry level quota of $__________. Model: [name here]
    2. Mid-level (reaches quota 75%+ of time), has quota of $_________. Model: [name here]
    3. Senior level (reaches quota all the time), has quota of $_________. Model: [name here]

Accelerators

  • 2 accelerators on increases in gross sales above quota – at ­­__% over quota gets __% commission, __% over quota gets __% commission
  • 2 accelerators on increases in gross margin – at ­­__% over quota gets __% commission, __% over quota gets __% commission

Team Selling – per sale

  • Effort Allocation must be defined clearly in CRM and entered formally:
  • Partner (shares ½ of all selling work) = 50-50% commission split?
  • Consultant (advisor, stops by client if in town, answers occasional client questions and encourages future communication to be with sales person– gets far less commission but still helpful) = 10-30% ??? of total commission (varies based on specific consultant levels)

Doing the above will help get and keep your sales team in their Smart State—which means greater performance, happier people, less stress for you!”

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